Stephanie A. Higa's Reviews > The Post-Birthday World

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver
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's review
Jan 27, 2008

did not like it

Lesson #1: Don't let your husband make more money than you.
Lesson #2: If you can't decide between two (or more) men, they're probably both wrong for you. Especially if they're, oh, self-centered assholes.

I hated this book from page one. Halfway through I declared it to be one of the worst books I had ever read. I hated the characters, the characters' names, the character's jobs (sorry, I still can't distinguish between pool and snooker), the plot, and the prose, which is annoying and littered with a multitude of metaphors so bad they made me cringe. (Do you want snooker to seem classy? Then don't compare the position of the red balls to a whore's open legs!) Bad dialogue too. 90% of this book consists of petty arguments between petty people. Nothing remotely tragic or exciting happens, unless you count the contrived incorporation of 9/11.

The review on the back lauds Shriver's characters. OK, I suppose they could have passed for well-developed if the machinations weren't so obvious. I get it, Lawrence and Ramsey are EXACT OPPOSITES. (Although I was a bit attached to Lawrence for a while because he reminds me a bit of myself. But while Shriver pushes the equality of the two men, the story seems tipped in Ramsey's favor.) No matter what decision Irina would have made, she would still be the same insecure, boring, racist, self-hating American tool. Which reminds me..."the Asian"? "The small brown man"? "American cultural backwash"? And yes I normally try to ignore these sort of markers, but here, they appeared to be just as much the property of the characters as of the narrator.

But: there is one saving grace. I could have put down this book at any time. I wanted to, especially when it started making me feel homicidal (as in The Corrections), but frankly, I was hoping for some insight. And eventually there was, toward the ending. Most of this book is chick lit trying to pass itself off as literary fiction (and failing), but the ending is good. It isn't the cop-out I was expecting. And I suppose it did strike a chord within me-- or perhaps force me to think about parts of my own past which I have tried to tuck away. But I prefer other artistic manifestations of the same basic idea: Third Eye Blind's "The Background", or maybe even Frame and Match, the astronomer vs. snooker-player book Irina writes.
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Reading Progress

January 27, 2008 – Shelved
Started Reading
June 9, 2008 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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lol A+

Colleen Wow, finally someone else who disliked The Corrections as much as I did! While I didn't hate Post-Birthday World as much as you did, I definitely was not a fan. Great review.

message 3: by 5inabus (new) - added it

5inabus In our book club we have an award called the Angry Pants crown. It is presented to the person who has the most violent reaction to our current book. I have held it for two consecutive months after reading The Tigers Wife and Room - both which made me, as you so aptly put it, 'homicidal'. If you were in our book club you would have just wrenched the crown off me with this stunning review.

Crystal Marie Disagree.

Regina D Loved this review and I totally agree. I hated this from the beginning but forced myself to read through it because I'm no quitter! ;) In the end I should have tossed it.

message 6: by Anna (new) - rated it 1 star

Anna Oh wow, I like the idea with the Angry Pants crown... I'm sure I'd win it with this book... Oh, and 100 % agreement on the review, brilliant!

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